Days of Tribulation
Today's article appeared in the September 2020 issue of The Gospel News in the Editorial Viewpoint column.
Our Lord Jesus Christ said: "These things I have spoken unto you that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
What a wonderful promise! What comfort! But let's go a little deeper into these words. The word tribulation comes from the Latin tribulo, to thrash, to beat; severe affliction; distresses of life; vexations.
Webster's 1828 version of the American English dictionary included a comment that references the Scripture. (That reference is not found in today's modern version of the dictionary.) Based on the number of occurrences of spiritual tribulations in the Scriptures, tribulations can come from two places: troubling conditions or persecutions.
In the last 150 years we have not had much persecution (when compared to the Saints in other ages), but we have been sorely troubled, especially with sicknesses and afflictions.
Trouble in the world is not due to our personal wickedness, but rather to the conditions in the world. Noah had to build an ark, not because he wanted to, but because of the spiritual conditions in his day.
In the parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus spoke of four places where the seeds were sown. One of those was seeds sown in stony places, the "same is he that hears the word, and anon [at once] with joy receives it; yet he has not root in himself, but endures for a while; for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, by and by he is offended." And not stated by Jesus, but alluded to, is that same person does not yield a crop or fruit.
We have a choice when tribulations come. We can either stand strong in the Lord, have faith and rely on Him and build upon the solid foundation (Luke 6:48), or we can give up. The choice is ours. I have seen many Saints suffer through many tribulations, and remain faithful and true to their calling and covenant with the Lord.
The warning of tribulations for Israel goes back to the days of Moses. Notice some of the key and prophetic words Moses delivered to the people: "And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you. And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (for the Lord thy God is a merciful God); he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of the fathers which he sware unto them" (Deuteronomy 4:27-31).
There are also many references to hope and comfort from our tribulations, such as those found in the following Scripture: "But we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation works patience and patience, experience, and experience, hope. And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (Romans 5:3-5).
And then there are the words of Alma to his son. "I would that ye should remember that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day" (Alma 38:5).
Our Lord said, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things (food, drink, and clothing) shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof" (3 Nephi 13:33-34).
My dear brothers and sisters, stand strong, keep the faith, look to Jesus Christ, or as it is written: "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses (the Saints who have gone on before us), let us lay aside every weight (burden), and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (completes or perfects us); who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the same, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:1-3).
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.